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The Gnostics (Pocket Essentials) Hardcover – 24 Nov 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Essentials (24 Nov 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904048560
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904048565
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sean Martin is the author of the bestselling The Knights Templar: The History and Myths of the Legendary Military Order (2nd edition, 2009), and has appeared in a number of Templar-related TV programmes, including The Trial of the Knights Templar (Channel 5) and The Templars' Lost Treasure (National Geographic).

His other books include The Gnostics: The First Christian Heretics (2nd edition, 2010), The Cathars: The Most Successful Heresy of the Middle Ages (2005) and Andrei Tarkovsky (new edition, 2011), a study of the great Russian director. His latest book is New Waves in Cinema (2013).

As a filmmaker, he co-directed the documentary Lanterna Magicka: Bill Douglas and the Secret History of Cinema (2009, released on DVD and Blu-Ray by the BFI), the short film A Boat Retold, featuring writers Robert Macfarlane and Ian Stephen (2013), and the feature film Folie à Deux (2012).

He is also a poet, and won the 2011 Wigtown Poetry Prize. He lives in Edinburgh.

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Basilides on 3 Feb 2009
Format: Hardcover
A good general introduction to an enormous subject which brings the Gnostic story right up to the present day and Philip K Dick and The Matrix, via Blake, Jung and Kafka. It contains all you need to know to recognise and appreciate how Gnosticism has become an all pervasive part of contemporary culture, and is at the heart of so many things even when so many people have never heard of it; ignorance of it among the educated classes is quite astonishing, be they atheists or believers. Both have very good reason to find out more, otherwise their position is untenable (see my review of the book 'Better Never To Have Been').
The two other excellent and deeper introductions to Christian Gnosticism are 'The Gnostic Gospels' by Elaine Pagels and 'The Gnostics' by Tobias Churton.
Ultimately the one to aim for is the groundbreaking masterwork on the subject from 1958 which is Hans Jonas' 'The Gnostic Religion: the message of the alien God and the beginnings of Christianity'.
But for the influence of Gnosticism on Western literature, and indirectly on Catholic mysticism, the book to read is 'Passion and Society' by Denis de Rougement; and almost all of Harold Bloom's critical work on the Romantic poets and their successors; and his 'Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dream and Resurrection'.
Sean Martin has also written another short book about Gnosticism called 'The Cathars'. Most of the material on the Bogomils in that book seems to be drawn from Prof. Malcolm Barber's book 'The Cathars - Dualistic Heretics in Languedoc in the High Middle Ages' where all the recent research on the origins of Gnostic ideas in Europe from Bulgaria is covered.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. Hoyland on 25 Nov 2008
Format: Hardcover
Sean martin's book is higly relevamnt and to be honest is not given the credit it deserves among the academic field. Comapred to Elain Pagels, Martins work is just relevant and thought provoking as Pagels and since Pagels is revvered by most on this field of sudy, so should Martin. I sincerly encourage anyone who is studying the gnostics or merely just researching them in your time to buy thisbook and read it. It has helped over the pasttwo years of my degree, which is B.A. Religiosu Studies and Theology.
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By Ellie Rabbit on 10 Mar 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very concise, superbly written introduction on the trail of Gnosticism through history and on those who believed and those who didn't.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sean Martin seems to specialise in short introductions to heretical aspects of the Christian church; I've previously read and enjoyed his book on the Knight's Templar, and picked this up as an introduction to a subject I know almost nothing about.

This is a solid and very readable introduction to a complicated subject which I've enjoyed reading and got through in only three sittings. Unlike the Templar book, which is a straightforward history book, this one covers the actual historical situation only briefly, presumably because the two millennia between then and now shrouds a lot of the detail and because far fewer sources are available than for the Templars. Of the sources that are available, they're either the relatively recently re-discovered Gnostic texts themselves, or they're the writings of the early Church Fathers who were polemically opposed to the Gnostics by definition.

This book instead concentrates on explaining the core tenets of Gnostic beliefs, including good explanations of both gnosis and dualism, briefly outlines what is known about the main Gnostic teachers and sects, and then describes some of the works that have been unearthed and identified as Gnostic texts and gospels. The book is therefore more theological than historical.

The final chapter is on the legacy of the Gnostics, including a brief summary of the Great Heresy of the Bogomils and Cathars in the early 2nd millennium, a subject Martin has also written a 'pocket essential' book on, and on more recent Gnostic-influenced writers and thinkers such as William Blake and Carl Jung.
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By Michal Brys on 8 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
no problems with opening.... this book was a milestone of world and history of gnosis for me . its very informative and keeps emotions well away from content.
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